Greetings Friends the world over! Conversion, as a word and concept, is central to the Christian faith. There are many terms which are used to explain when a person receives Jesus Christ and become a Christian. The common one is ‘conversion.’ Conversion as a concept ought to convey movement from something to something. It is commonly explained as a ‘change.’ But what exactly is it? Is the change intellectual, social, psychological, moral, or some combination? Is it an event or a process? What or who defines conversion? In Christian history the meaning of the word and the concept itself varies from person to person, from group to group, and from setting to setting.
Conversion looks different under different historical circumstances, even within the same historical context. For example, millions of people experienced so-called conversion through forceful efforts, whether physical or verbal, for reason of “religious change.” Other have viewed conversion as a form of colonization and imperialism. Yet, millions of people today have embraced the Christian faith not through threat or coercion, nor because a colonial power, but because of a variety of inducements and motivations. Perhaps they conclude that the Christian God is a good God that is capable of helping and saving them, both in this temporal life and in the next life to come.
However, if we are to trust the words of the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ Himself, then it is more, much more than what history or what any one group of people may have espoused and stated in the matter. Jesus stated, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Further He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). In these two passages of the Bible, we can say that all we can surmise about life in all its human manifestation and more has been answered. There is nothing in His statements we can insinuate deprivation of any human aspiration in terms of the holistic destiny of mankind as a whole, both in this mortal human life, and the next one in immortality.
The Scriptures tell us, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom.10:13; Acts 2:21). So, “everyone who calls” implies a willing and voluntary participant. He is not coerced, forced, manipulated, in any way, shape, or form. Paul said, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Tim.2:3-6).
The Scriptures lays out the process by which a person can be saved which entails conversion. But what exactly is it? The message of the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost gives us more detail. When the Holy Spirit was given to mankind on Pentecost as promised by Jesus and the Father, Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Act.2:38-39). So, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Here, we read the process of conversion.
Note the four steps in the conversion process, a) repent, b) be baptized, c) obtain forgiveness of sins, d) receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Each step dovetails into the next and entails conversion wholistically. Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luk. 5:32). Another word for conversion is surrender. Jesus’ call of absolute surrender goes out to all people: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luk. 13:5). Let us see the answers to conversion in the four steps Peter announced.
First, What is repentance?
1) True repentance involves a sense of awareness of one’s own guilt, sinfulness, and helplessness (Psa. 51:4–10; 109:21–22).
2) True repentance apprehends or takes hold of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ (Psa. 51:1; 130:4).
3) True repentance means a change of attitude and action regarding sin. Hatred of sin turns the repentant person away from his or her sin to God (Psa. 119:128; Job 42:5–6; 2 Cor. 7:10).
4) True repentance results in a radical and persistent pursuit of holy living, walking with God in obedience to His Love and commands (2 Tim. 2:19–22; 1 Pet. 1:16).
Second, what and why is baptism? The Bible tells us clearly that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (John 1:12; John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Rom. 3:21-30; Rom. 4:5; Rom. 10:9-10; Eph. 2:8-10; Phi. 3:9; Gal. 2:16). Our baptism is the outward sign of our faith in all of the divine gifts and attributes above.
Third, forgiveness is an integral part of salvation. When Jesus forgives us, our sins, trespasses, iniquities, and transgressions are wiped off the record. The forgiveness we have in Christ involves the release of sinners from God’s just penalty and the complete dismissal of all charges against us (Rom. 8:1). Paul says that in God’s beloved Son “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col.1:14).
Fourth, The Holy Spirit is the third divine Person of the Trinity. (Matt.28:18-20) The Bible teaches that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The Spirit has been gifted to humanity from the Father and the Son. (John 14:26; 15:26) The Bible also teaches that there is only one God. The Holy Spiri possesses a mind, emotions, and a will. He thinks and knows (1 Cor. 2:10). The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph. 4:30). The Spirit intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26-27). He makes decisions according to God’s will (1 Cor. 12:7-11). As God, the Holy Spirit can truly function as the Comforter and Counselor that Jesus promised He would be (John 14:16, 26; 15:26). (https://www.gotquestions.org.)
The greatest meaning of conversion must always convey the act of NEW CREATION by God in human life. At times the word conversion conveys a picture of tentativeness, an impression of disconnected, fragmentary experience, instead of a committed and unshakable ordeal. Is conversion a halfway point between two extremes. Whereas, the NEW CREATION communicates a completed breakaway, a secession, a parting-of-ways, as Paul stated, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor.5:17; also Rom.6:4).
Here, Paul uses the term “a NEW CREATION” to mean conversion. It is not a passing transition as if patching old clothing with a new patch. By saying, “the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new,” conveys a completed NEW CREATION. God is not doing an overhaul of you. He is not repairing you, like taking a vehicle that’s badly damaged from a collision for restoration. No, it says, “the old things have passed away.” The ‘damaged vehicle’ (you) has been discarded altogether. You have gone to the dump – for good! God is not repairing you and I like a smashed vehicle. He has nailed the old dead you (Rom.6:23)upon His Son’s cross permanently – never to return! And in its place God has recreated a totally new you through the power of His Spirit.
Paul says this, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit” (Gal.5:16, 25). Jesus said, “That which is born (anew) of the Spirit is Spirit” (John 3:3). Paul goes on to say, “We worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus” (Phi.3:3). So, the NEW CREATION is housed in the very Person of the Holy Spirit. Notice what Paul said, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Cor.3:16).
Paul said this, when speaking of the believer’s reality in Christ, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal.2:20). The passage was not speaking of crucifixion in the physical, bodily sense, but the spiritual – that is to say, the inner spiritual person who, due to sin (death), must be resurrected a NEW CREATION from a place of sin and death. This was God’s wisdom and plan of salvation for humanity through Christ. (1 Cor.1:30; Rom.6:23). God is not in the business of restoration; He is not rehabilitating you. He is making you into a profoundly and wholly NEW CREATION in Christ by the Spirit’s power. Remember, you were dead to sin, and that is what makes the NEW CREATION absolutely necessary. (Rom.6:23; 2 Cor.5:17; Rom.6:4, 8; Rom.5:5).
For in considering our human potential as creatures made in God’s image, God is in the business of creation. (Gen.1:26-27; 5:1). I repeat, He is making an entirely NEW CREATION out of you through His Spirit. How does God make a NEW CREATION of you possible? John tells us, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3). The term “born again” of itself conveys a NEW CREATION. This is not a restoration, repair, overhaul, or rehabilitation, of you. This is the COMPLETED NEW CREATION of you in Christ as Paul stated, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor.5:17). Paul roundly affirms the absolute wonder of this future NEW CREATURE of humanity in Christ, saying, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Rom.8:29).
For in considering the human potential, the NEW CREATION “confirmed in the Image of His Son” tells us all that we are to become and must adopt Christ and His likeness as Creator – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION” (2 Cor.5:17). The Scriptures speaks of the creation of the earth and the material universe with the laws which govern and keeps all thing in an orderly existence was done by Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Jesus is called by other names, He is called The Word, for He is God’s Spokesman who spoke all of creation into existence.
John was inspired to write this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome a it” (John 1:1-5). God the Father had assigned to the Son as The Word and Spokesman, the work of creation, and thereby the title of Creator. Therefore, Jesus, as Creator, is the One who spoke all of creation into existence.
If humanity was recreated to embrace and take on Christ’s image, and all that means, what is that image? First and foremost, it is the image of Jesus, the Creator – “Through Him (Jesus) all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:3-4). Of course, we do not undervalue by any degree His role as humanity’s Messiah and High Priest. Yes, our potential as human beings is to assume and embody Christ as the Loving Creator.
In concert with the Holy Spirit, God brought all creation into existence. (Gen.1) The Psalm states, “When You send Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth” (Psa.104:30). God the Father, through the Son and the Spirit’s power brought all creation into being through the Spokesman, Jesus Christ. Recall the Genesis creation account we read earlier, “…the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Gen.1:1). Yes, the earth after going through a time of destruction (that’s a subject of another topic by itself), needed to be RECREATED. The Holy Spirit is the means, through which God’s creative prowess in Christ manifested in creation. We must visualize and capture that vision God our Father holds out concerning humanity’s eternal destiny in His Son as Creator. (Rom.8:29)
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are” (1 John 3:1). Reading the remaining passage from the Message Bible, “And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see Him—and in seeing Him, become like Him. All of us who look forward to His Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own” (1 John 3:2-3, MSG). Yes, at the resurrection of humanity at Christ’s second coming, “we will see Him and become like Him.” What God has in store for us is beyond the human mind can know, but it will be magnificent beyond words.
This future is beyond human comprehension and extreme to imagine possible. Yet, we must receive and accept this divine process of NEW CREATION through an act of sheer, unmitigated, faith. Paul said this, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom.1:17). Again, Paul says, “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith” (Gal.3:11).
That being the case, God informs us about the believer’s faith, its vitality, and what it is in human life, “BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE WILL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. But we are not among those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith for the safekeeping of the soul” (Heb.10:38-39). The living faith we are to profess is Christ’s very personal faith, listen, “The righteousness of God which comes by the faith of Jesus to all and on all that believe” (Rom.3:22, AKJV). Did you get that? It specifically states, “The Faith of Jesus.” It is not our weak, powerless, doubt-filled human faith. Without this faith we cannot stand before God…“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb.11:6). From there two passages, Scriptures affirm that only Christ’s living faith in us keeps our soul secure, and preserves us from spiritual destruction.
Most appropriately, let me add that conversion is more than all we have covered above, but more so for it is also a process. However, that process cannot begin until the first aspect of conversion we have covered so far is done authentically – that we have experienced the new birth, the NEW CREATION, through the miraculous act of God by the power of His Spirit (“what is born of the Spirit is Spirit”). Only then, a person can follow the wholistic path of conversion which includes the act of conversion as a procession. We will cover this second aspect of conversion in a separate post in future. Sufficient to say, that the act of conversion which ends in divination (NEW CREATION) is one thing as we have seen, then there is one other vital component of God’s activity of the process of conversion. Both are mutually dependent so that one cannot do without the other. That is important to remember.
Suffice to say that God goes further by recreating humanity into His very Love-nature, listen, “God’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom.5:5). If God’s spiritual image and nature is Love (1 John 4:16), and we have been made a NEW CREATION by birth through His Spirit of Love through Christ’s messiahship, then we too will have been created in His divine likeness for the Spirit is the image of God’s Love-nature even now and at the resurrection. (1 Cor.15:53-55) Listen, “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you” (Rom.8:9-11).
As eternal children of God, made in God’s divine Love-nature, humanity will not be capable of committing sin anymore. Speaking of that future scenario, the Scripture says, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9, KJV). Further, the Bible states, “There will be no more death” (Rev.21:4). There is only one way death enters human life, through sin “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom.6:23). So, without sin death have no place in human existence. Paul speaking of humanity’s eternal future, said, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor.15:26). In other words, to exist in God’s Kingdom is live in God’s holy existence where sin and rebellion cannot exist.
This second process of conversion where humanity is created in the divine “Love-nature,” will be covered in detail in a future post.
Petition: Friends, as I have closed my post in the past, I customarily give our readers the opportunity to give their lives to our Maker. I thank you for investing your precious time with me in the sharing of the good news of Jesus who is our hope and has enabled us to live the Triune Life*. Jesus is alive today as our High Priest in heaven seated at His Father’s side, and ceaselessly mediating for us. I hope that in your heart of heart you will receive Him as your personal Savior, receive God’s Spirit, and be part of living this glorious Immanuel humanity made children of God forever.
You can privately and quietly pray the prayer below in your heart. I am asking you to pray this prayer as a human being Christ died for, regardless of your background. All are inducted into the one mankind Jesus saved, not into any religious sect or denomination, or divisions one may espouse – but into the glorious humanity that Christ is preparing as the holy temple for the holy God, the Creator’s dwelling:
Prayer: “Almighty God, Father of all humanity, forgive me of all my sins for I receive Your Son, Jesus, as my personal Savior. In Your incalculable grace, grant Your promised celestial life in Your Son through Your Holy Spirit, and open my eyes to the wondrous gifts you have conferred upon me and all humanity. May Your Love guide and protect me and my Loved ones always, and bring us all into Your beloved and divine Kingdom. I praise and thank You, Amen.”
Prayer is A Solemn One-On-One Spiritual Love Dialogue Between a Person and God the Father
Welcome to the celestial life of Love in God’s holy, eternal Family. (1 Tim.6:19) Then keep in touch with God’s Word for you by reading and studying your Bible, and visiting this blog and website and look at various subjects listed in our archives that may be relevant for your situation – go to: http://bulamanriver.net. You can email me with your questions at the address shown below.
Personal Blessing: Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life”* Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
Farewell for now,
Kiang P. Lee (Your Servant In Christ)
Appendix: *The “Love-Fruits of the Holy Spirit:” *the fruit of patience, *the fruit of kindness, *the fruit of contentedness, *the fruit of modesty (unboastful), *the fruit of humility, *the fruit of honor, *the fruit of unselfishness, *the fruit of calmness and dignity, *the fruit of forgiveness and compassion, *the fruit of delighting in good and shunning evil, *the fruit of tolerance, *the fruit of responsibility, *the fruit of enduring hope, *the fruit of steadfast perseverance, *the fruit of joy, *the fruit of peace, *the fruit of goodness, *the fruit of faith, *the fruit of gentleness, *the fruit of self-control, *the fruit of zeal and spiritual fervor, *the fruit of friendship, *the fruit of sharing and generosity, *the fruit of prayerfulness, *the fruit of hospitality, etc. (1 Cor.13; also Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 12:9-21). These attributes may seem ordinary and mundane, but when empowered and propelled in the Spirit’s power, they are transformed into divine elements of transformation.
**”Triune Life”: Relationship with God has no meaning without Love. By its very nature, Love cannot endure in solitary existence. So, when God said “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness…” He was revealing Himself as existing in His trinitarian existence. That is, His Tri-Personal Being as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Gen.1:26; Matt.28:19; John 14:10, 16; 16:7) The Hebrew word for ‘God’ in the creation account is “Elohim.” It describes God in His plurality, as the Trinity – the Tri-Personal Godhead, which other scriptures attests. (Matt.28:18-20; 1 Pet.1:2; 2 Thess.2:13; 2 Cor.13:14) So, God is Trinitarian in His Love nature. He is also clothed in Freedom. For the three Persons of the Trinity are three distinct and free Persons in the triune Godhead. Love and Freedom by nature is relational as God is in His Tri-Personal Being. Hence, a human being was created a relational being possessing freedom.
Adam was solitary and incomplete until God made Eve. He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone (solitary). I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen.2:18, italics mine). So, God gave Adam a family to raise composed of a father, mother, and offspring, to reflect Himself in His plural Being. The Bible states that the Church’s or humanity’s destiny is to marry Christ, the second Person of the Triune Godhead, in the new age to come which will be an everlasting divine relationship. (2 Cor.11:2; Eph.5:23-27, 32; Rev.19:7) The Bible is abundantly clear about God’s nature and declaration of Himself in His relational Triune Being from the past, the present, and the future. God has never lived as a solitary Being, but a Tri-Personal Being.
It’s noteworthy to understand that Eve was not created an individual creation from the dust of the earth as was Adam. She was not created apart from Adam as an individualized separate human being, instead, she was taken out from Adam’s side to show she was biologically one and indivisibly part of Adam, like God is in His Tri-Personal Being of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Eve was not detached (solitary) from Adam, but intrinsically inseparable from Adam’s innermost humanity, as God is in His divine triunity. When Adam saw Eve, he said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man” (Gen.2:21-23) God created humanity to reflect Himself in His unified Tri-Personal Being (Trinity).
Rublev’s Icon of The Trinity (Wiki Commons)
Each one of us was created as an indivisible relational human being incubated and given birth from Adam’s mold as one species, for God created humanity to reflect the eternal likeness in His triunity. We are born for relationships with the divine triune Love as our guiding principle. All this show that humans were created to be indivisibly one to reflect God’s Tri-Personal image of Oneness (Trinity), not solitary separateness. When God sent Jesus His eternal Son, He became human in order to unify humanity spiritually to the Triune Being of God through Christ once for all time. Hence, when the prophet Isaiah proclaimed Jesus’ coming, He was given the prophetic name, Immanuel. (Isa.7:14) The name means “God with us” (Matt.1:23). Humanity is ‘organically’ one with the Triune God through Christ, just as humanity is one with Adam.
Most religions believe God as some solitary being. The true God is not solitary by any means, He is the one Triunity in His Tri-Personal Being. God consist of three Persons in One divine triune Godhead. (Matt.28:18-20) They exist in One “homoousion” meaning consisting in one substance, or “consubstantiality.” The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in One hypostatic union, One substance, like Eve was biologically part of and never physically separate, but of one substance from Adam, for she came out of Adam. Likewise, humanity is made of one spiritual substance with the triune God through Jesus Christ who took our humanity upon Himself and joined it to the divine triune existence forever.
The three-dimensional Triune Life/Love is opposed to living the one-dimensional solitary life of the fallen humanity inherited from Satan through Adam’s rebellion. For additional information about the Triune Life: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036. Also at: http://bulamanriver.net/9092.
**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, you may obtain a copy of my book, “Bula” Man-River, from Amazon.com; xulonpress.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online book stores. All proceeds will go towards furthering the work of Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.
Bulamanriver Book Cover
Mission Statement: Read the Triune Love Mission, Vision, and Value statements at: http://bulamanriver.net/8664
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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